Chilled Melon Soup

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1 Rock Melon (Honeydew), cut into chunks

A handful of Mint leaves

Lime juice from 2 limes

1 small red onion (you can use this or omit it, depending on your taste)

1/4 cup or more of Coconut cream

pinch of salt to taste

optional¬†add 1/4 cup of Grand Marnier swirled in before serving for a decadent appetizer or brunch addition ūüôā

  1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor or strong blender. Garnish with extra mint or lime. You can also top with a dollop of coconut cream if you want!

Back in my university days, I worked as a waitresss every summer to finance my travels and my artsy lifestyle. One of the nicest restaurants I worked at was a country club on a golf course in Chatham, MA on the elbow of Cape Cod. I never had time to sit and eat while working so a bowl of their chilled fruit soups were one of my favorite quick snacks. They were refreshing, cooling, and just the right amount of food.

Right now, it’s still very hot in Dubai and this melon soup hit the spot today in between my school runs. Regional melon is quite delicious and cheap. The melon I used today was from Armenia. That’s just one of my many favorite things about Dubai, even our food knows no borders.

Enjoy and please comment with any fruit soup/gazpacho variations you love, I’m always looking for new ideas.

 

Podcasts

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It’s been a crazy Spring around here. We just had the best vacation of our lives (until the next one). It was our first vacation without a lot of baby or toddler gear. We took a stroller, a travel cot, and some nighttime diapers. We only used the stroller as a sherpa and ended up leaving it in a taxi (that’s how you know you really don’t need it anymore). We didn’t need the crib but my three-year old loves it, like really loves it. And I love anything that makes my kids sleep happily. Nighttime diapers, who knows if we need them but I’m not taking any chances. Who likes being woken up in the night to change sheets and deal with a wet toddler. Not me!

Anyway, Cape Town. Seriously, it looks fake it’s so amazing. It’s San Francisco but dirt cheap, it’s Napa, but on steroids. It’s France with lavender and rustic wood but without the French :). It’s Africa, the place in my heart but mixed with the rest of the world. I can’t wait to go back already.

So I came back to a mixed bag of news. My friend’s book was published. Amazing. My best friend is leaving Dubai. Not just any best friend but the friend I met in Starbucks almost nine years ago. She looked tired, freaked out, and overwhelmed. Her son was a new-born, mine was safely tucked away in my womb. Cue too many memories and milestones to tell. Let’s just say I’m going to have a huge phone bill. YUGE!

Ramadan is here and I love the peaceful vibe and the change in our typical rhythm. I’m also having a little middle life crisis with Dubai at the moment. I’ve been here almost ten years and the constant change in the city, people, and the energy is wearing me down. I know I’ll come back from seeing family in September and feel revived. But at the moment I feel weary and what helps is getting in the ocean, exercising, cooking, and getting some extra sleep. The other thing that really helps me stay centered is music. I’ve almost always got it playing in our house and in our car. My kids have opinions now and I get DJ requests. ¬†I’m getting a little sick of Justin Bieber and The Wheels on The Bus.

One of the things I really love about Ramadan is the quiet during the day. As a family, we use the opportunity for extra service in the community and reflection. It’s a time of year that while I dread the inconveniences (often skipping meals or water because I’m out all day) I also appreciate all of the conveniences I am privileged to have. I love seeing the city come alive before Iftar and it’s a time when many communities blend and break bread. Reflecting on our years in Dubai, seeing the city grow before our eyes, and constantly learning new things from new people- these are just some of the things I love about living in such a dynamic city.

Like any normal Dubain¬†I spend a lot of time driving. I don’t love that about my life, but podcasts make it better! As soon as the kids are out of the car, I usually put one on and Ramadan is a great time to take a break from music and listen to other people’s stories. As a writer I find a lot of inspiration when I hear other’s talk about their lives or their creative process.

So, without anymore rambling, I give you my list of favorite podcasts:

This American Life (TAL)

It’ll always be my number one, because it was my gateway drug to podcasts in general. I’ve been listening to it off and on since I was in college. I can still remember being blown away by a stories on it as I made the drive home from my college campus. I could never pick a favorite episode. I believe every American should listen to this current season to get an insight to our current state affairs, you won’t get depressed, you’ll just understand all the different angles. TAL always finds hope.

This is one of my favorite episodes because it’s hosted by Sarah Koenig (before Serial) and it’s hilarious¬†Available Here

I could go on and on with so many links and favorite episodes but I’ll leave it there. TAL might be about death, the tooth fairy, war, embarrassment of first love, aliens, or superheroes. But it’s always a home run. Always.

Desert Island Discs

I’m sure every English person, is thinking duh? As a good Anglophile, I’m not sure how I missed this amazing 75 year old radio program but the good news? I have a lot of archives to catch up on. The premise is the artist, musician, sports star, writer etc. are stranded on a desert island forever. They narrtate their choices of songs/albums to accompany them, prompted by questions by the presenter. But what it evolves into is a beautiful tapestry of their life story, with music in the background. I’ve only listened to three so far and I’m in love. One with musical star, Polly James, from 1974 was mind-blowing. To hear people narrate something so modern in the past is intriguing. Polly was asked what she would miss most about her life if she was exiled from civilization and she said her telephone, but she would also love to be away from it. This made me feel so much better about the state of our world. It’s hard not to feel we’re all going to hell in a hand basket with the direction of technology. I fear we will all end up mindless, depressed, lonely people with very bad posture. Turns out, it was a mixed blessing over forty years ago too. Yesterday I listened to Ed Sheehan and David Beckham and I’m not exaggerating when I say, they changed me, and my perception of music, dedication, and football. I also have a little bit of a crush on both of them.¬†

My Favorite Murder

What can I say, I have a twisted sense of entertainment. This podcast looks at all kinds of murders: current, historical and even international, although most seem to be USA murders. Maybe we just have more. If you like witty, snarky, irreverent ramblings that make you laugh out loud even though murder isn’t funny you might like this podcast too. I couldn’t pick a favorite one if I tried. Just try one and see.

Modern Love

This podcast features stories from the popular NYT column and it’s just beautiful. Each episode centers on a column read by a famous actor or other notable person. The podcast often has updates from the original author of the piece. ¬†I have to admit I’ve cried while I’ve listened in my car. Tears of joy and sadness, sometimes at the same time. It’s a podcast that gives you a lot of hope and respect for how much love there is in the world, even if it’s misguided or painful.

One of my favorites is ‘The Wedding Toast’ read by Kathryn Hahn.¬†Available Here

The Moth¬†A podcast for writers, readers and lovers of the spoken word.¬†The Moth¬†is a live storytelling event where readers tell a true story without the aid of notes. It’s a mix of improv and stand-up. It’s inspiring and compelling. The podcast features live recordings from stages all around the USA.

Revisionist History  by Malcolm Gladwell and Panoply. The tag line for this podcast is sometimes the past needs a second chance. It features fascinating analysis on a variety of things that may have been misunderstood or overlooked. One of my favorites is about Wilt Chamberlin and Kevin Barry and their shooting techniques. Sounds sporty, but it uncovers a fascinating aspect of human nature. Available Here

Lastly, I give you Mystery Show a fantastic podcast I discovered right after Serial ended and I was afraid I would never love a podcast again. This short series is a cute and quirky take on you guessed it-solving mysteries. My favorite episode revolves around the tv show, Welcome Back Kotter, and it also happens to be the season finale. Available Here

Honorable Mentions: ¬†I don’t necessarily love these any less, but for the sake of a post that will actually be read, I think I should wrap it up!

To The Point ¬†a political podcast for concerned Americans and everyone that is impacted by US politics, so really, a podcast for everyone. ūüôā

You Must Remember This  A podcast about forgotten Hollywood history from the 1900s.

Stuff You Should Know ¬†a podcast about how stuff works…

Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin ¬†I could listen to his voice for days. This is another podcast with unique interviews with a variety of well-known personalities.

 

 

 

 

Korean Bibimbap

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Korean Bibimbap
A bunch of years ago, before marriage and kids I was a strict vegetarian working as an international teacher. After having my own Eat, Pray, Love experience in Bali, living in Ubud, traveling by bicycle or on the back of a motorbike all over the island as a volunteer art teacher, I needed money. Badly. On¬†a recommendation from a friend, I ended up in Korea, working as an English teacher at a winter camp for kids. It took a month to just master the art of saying thank you in Korean. Unlike so many other places I had traveled, I could never quite get a read on people’s tones or mood. Often, I would think someone was yelling at me, when they were in fact inviting me to stay and have a drink. We worked six long days a week but on our one day off my friends and I would search for the local spas by looking for the symbol that looked like a coffee cup. For a few dollars, we would seek warm refuge inside for hours. There were endless foreign varieties of steam and water cleansing rituals. Afterwards we would go to a bar and eat and drink for hours, and the bill was always only ten dollars. Those were the days.
Anyway, as a vegetarian my diet there was very monotonous. I survived on white rice and plain, silken tofu with veggies and soy sauce at the camp. But I developed a huge love for Bibimbap, which was an occasional treat at mealtime. I prefer this dish to be vegetarian and usually replace the beef with baked tofu or sautéed tempeh. You could also just increase the veggies by adding mushrooms. This recipe is a  paleo version of a classic and comforting Korean dish using beef. It keeps all the flavour without the rice and bottled sauces.
Veggies
2 Cucumbers, cut into very thin slices
1 bunch Spring Onions, white and green parts thinly sliced, divided in half
2 T Rice or Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Carrots, cut into matchsticks or spiralized
2 Zucchinis, cut into matchsticks or spiralized
1 bunch Spinach, shredded
1-2 T Cooking Oil, e.g. half coconut and half sesame,
plus extra sesame oil for drizzling
3 cloves Garlic, minced
Salt, to taste
2 t Vinegar
Meat (For vegetarian, replace beef with tofu, tempeh, or mushrooms)
1 T. Fresh Ginger, grated
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
Salt
600 g Beef Mince
2 T Sesame or Coconut Oil, divided for cooking
4 Eggs
Garnish
Sesame Seeds, toasted
Spring Onions
Sesame Oil, optional
Hot Sauce, homemade or paleo friendly
Cabbage Slaw
1) Thinly slice the cucumbers and both the white and green parts of the spring onions.
2 )Mix cucumber slices, half of the spring onions and rice vinegar in a bowl and set aside to marinate.
3) Peel and cut the carrots and zucchinis into fine matchsticks (or spiralize). Shred the
spinach.
4) Cook veggies separately (carrot, zucchini and spinach) in 1-2 t of sesame or coconut oil with 1 clove of crushed or minced garlic until cooked to your liking, set each veggie aside on a serving platter.
5) Drizzle all veggies with sesame oil
6) Peel and grate the ginger and mince the garlic. Whisk ginger,
garlic, red pepper, salt and oil (2-4 t.) in a bowl.
7) Crumble beef mince into the pan you cooked veggies in with 1 T of oil.
8) Stir and cook until no longer pink, place in oven safe dish and keep warm.
9) In same pan (optional), heat oil for 3 minutes over medium-high heat and add eggs one at a time and cook until the whites are opaque and crisp and yolks are beginning to set, about 4 minutes.

Pomelo Salad

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This post has been delayed quite a few times…because this salad is so yummy that I end up eating it before I can take a pretty picture. Also, it doesn’t photograph well but let’s not hold it against the poor salad. Looks aren’t everything!

So, if you know me, you know I try not to use any bottled sauces, except Sriracha-you’ll have to pry that from my dead hands. I also hate super sweet savory dishes. I like sugar, but in a dessert, not a salad. So, I think this salad is still under construction, I keep finding ways to make it better but I don’t want to keep it to myself because this soy free, vegan, sugar free, peanut free pomelo salad is delicious and it’s the perfect lunch for these hot Dubai afternoons! This salad takes minutes to make and tastes even better the next day. ¬†I used a combo of almond butter and tahini but feel free to use all of one nut butter or peanut butter.

Ingredients

1 pomelo, peeled and shredded

1-2 Limes, juiced (depending on size and your preference)

1 T Tahini

1 T almond butter

1/4-1/2 cup Coconut milk

2 cloves garlic

1-2 Thai green chilis, chopped

1 small red onion, slivered

1/2 cup desiccated coconut, dry toasted in a pan for a few minutes until golden and aromatic

Salt, to taste

Cilantro, chopped

  1. Put pomelo in a large bowl
  2. Mix lime juice, nut butters, coconut milk, and garlic to desired consistency
  3. Combine chilis,onion, and dried or desiccated coconut with pomelo and stir
  4. Pour dressing and combine well
  5. Top with salt, cilantro, and extra lime if needed
  6. You can add some hot sauce on top if desired (like sriracha).

 

Beef and Mango Lettuce Wraps

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Serves 4

Simple, spicy and a little sweet.

6-700 g ( 1.5lb) of  beef mince/ground beef (grass-fed, organic if possible)

1 red onion, chopped

1 T oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 T ginger, minced

1 T vinegar

Crushed red pepper or cayenne to taste

Salt, tamarin or coconut aminos to taste

1 head big leaf lettuce (Boston, bibb or Iceberg), leaves separated and washed carefully to keep intact, store in layers in the fridge for extra crispness

¬ľ head of cabbage, shredded

2 carrots, shredded

1 mango, chopped

4-5 radishes, sliced very thinly

Cilantro, chopped

1 small lime, juiced

  • Heat a skillet over medium/medium high heat
  • Add oil
  • Saute beef and onions until your beef is no longer pink
  • Add garlic and ginger
  • Stir and cook for one minute
  • Stir in vinegar, spice, and salt
  • Make mango salsa with mangos, radishes, cilantro and lime juice
  • Spoon beef mixture into lettuce cups (4 per person)
  • Garnish with salsa and shredded cabbage

Coconut, Almond, and Lime Crusted Fish

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 Coconut, Almond, and Lime Crusted Fish
I just love the combination of limes and coconut and I’m always looking for new ways to use these flavors in food! I serve this dish with extra lime wedges (never enough in my house) and last night I improvised a salsa made from chopped Thai green chilis, lime juice, red onion, and cilantro as a topping and it was fantastic extra kick.
100 g or 1/2 cup fresh or dried shredded coconut (desiccated)
2 Limes, zested, one juiced and one cut in wedges for later
100 g or 1/2 cup Slivered Almonds
1 pinch Black Pepper
1/2 can Coconut Cream/Milk
Cooking Oil/Spray
500-600 g (approximately 1 lb)White Fish Fillets, cut into portion size pieces, I used Nile Perch
Salt, to taste
1) Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees Celsius or 425 F
2) Meanwhile, dry toast the fresh shredded coconut in a pan over medium
high heat until golden (5 minutes, while preparing other ingredients). Repeat same process with almonds.
3) Zest the limes and juice one lime
4) Blend coconut, almonds, lime zest,and black pepper in
a food processor or crush almonds in a bag and mix well with other
two. Set aside.
5) In a baking dish mix coconut cream/milk and lime juice, set aside.
6) Spray a baking dish large enough for fish with cooking spray. Dry
the fish fillets very thoroughly using paper towels, cut in four pieces, then
salt.
7) Dip in the lime and coconut mixture and place in baking dish. Top each fillet with the almond mixture to create a thick crust. Lightly spray or brush/drizzle the tops with oil.
8) Bake 12-17 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. Topping
should be golden and fish should flake easily.
Serve with blanched asparagus, roasted broccoli or any vegetable of your choice! I love the tropical tastes of this fish. It’s a perfect light lunch or refreshing dinner in the summer.

Grain Free Paleo Waffles

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I woke up this morning craving waffles. I also promised my friend Becky the recipe a LONG time ago. So, I figured I only have to pack for 5 people to go to South Africa and make a little birthday movie for my grandmother. I totally have time to mess around with a recipe for waffles I am trying to perfect. The kids loved them so that made it worth the time.

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk ( I used a coconut almond mix that I’m obsessed with)

1 t. apple cider vinegar

3 eggs

1 t. vanilla

2 T coconut oil

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/4 cup tapioca flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1/2 t. baking soda

1/2 t. baking powder

1/4 t. salt

  1. Mix the teaspoon of vinegar in with the almond milk. Let sit while you mix the rest of the ingredients. This makes a vegan version of buttermilk, and buttermilk makes everything richer and moist.
  2. Whisk eggs with vanilla and coconut oil in a bowl. I added fresh vanilla bean paste too to make them extra yummy.
  3. Whisk flours together very well in a large bowl.
  4. Add remaining dry ingredients and whisk again.
  5. Add milk to egg mixture.
  6. Combine wet ingredients with dry. Mix well.
  7. Pour into a preheated, greased (I used coconut oil spray) waffle iron and cook
  8. My recipe made 5 large waffles.
  9. Top with berries, coconut syrup, maple syrup, grated apple, cinnamon or whatever you desire. If I hadn’t been so hungry I would have blended some berries and coconut cream together but I didn’t. I just dipped mine in good, old-fashioned maple syrup.
  10. This recipe does not call for any added sugar in the batter. You can add 1-2 T coconut sugar or sugar if you like your waffles sweeter.  If you want your waffles even lighter, add more tapioca flour and less coconut or almond flour.